20 September 2019
Manchester United will kick-off their 2019/20 UEFA Europa League (EL) campaign on home turf as they welcome Astana to Old Trafford for the opening match of Group L. This will be a new experience for both sides, as United take on a team from Kazakhstan for the first time, with Astana facing off a Premier League side for the first time too.
After spending the previous two seasons in the UEFA Champions League, the Red Devils return to the competition that they won the last time they took part in back in 2016/17. Also, it will be the second time in history that United begin their EL journey in the group stage, with two of their previous three appearances in the competition coming after they finished third in their respective Champions League group. The Premier League giants have won each of their previous EL home games in the group stage, dodging failure in the last nine outings in the competition (W6, D3). However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have struggled to impress in Europe lately, losing four of their last five European home fixtures (W1, D1, L4).
Meanwhile, the visitors have wasted the opportunity to qualify for the Champions League losing 3-2 on aggregate to CFR Cluj in the first qualifying round (1-0 H, 1-3 A). But, they’ve had no problems overcoming FC Santa Coloma and Valletta in the EL second and third qualifying round respectively, before edging past BATE Borisov in the play-offs to set up this tie (3-0 H, 0-2 A). Far more comfortable at home, the Blue and Yellows have pulled off just one triumph in their last ten European trips (W1, D4, L5), qualifying included. Speaking of their away form, the reigning Kazakhstan Premier League holders have lost five of ten away games in the EL group stage (W2, D2, L5), conceding 2+ match goals across all of those defeats.
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